The two women braved the rain Tuesday to stand on a street corner off Northwest Boulevard. They wore rain gear, but their red faces bespoke both the cold and their weariness. Few of the drivers roaring by honked in support.
The women held signs that read “Yes for Kids” but the dreary weather and indifferent drivers seemed to predict a big no. It was election day in February and schools all over the region needed money. In a great, rainy day surprise, they got it.
Voters in District 81 overwhelmingly approved a $74.5 million bond. Central Valley School District passed two levy measures. Voters also said yes to school districts in Cheney, Deer Park, East Valley, West Valley, Freeman, Liberty, Medical Lake, Nine Mile Falls and Riverside. Voters in Pend Oreille, Whitman, Lincoln and Stevens counties also approved their levies.
This means a remolded Lewis and Clark High School, and computers in every school. It means new buses for Central Valley and sighs of relief for all school administrators granted the money to keep their schools running well.
Why the big turnouts and why the yes votes? These are much happier questions to ponder than the where-do-we-cut questions that follow school bond and levy defeats.
Many theories were buzzing around Wednesday morning. In Spokane School District 81, maybe it was nostalgia voting. Lewis and Clark is a landmark. So people voted to save a bit of the past and wire it, and all the other schools, for the future. Or maybe it was because of the specific request. The district said here is how much money we need, here’s exactly what it will buy and here’s what it will cost on your tax bill.
Perhaps faith in a surging economy sent yes voters to the polls in all the districts. Or the realization that to preserve the Inland Northwest’s reputation as a great place to raise a family, we need great schools in which to educate those families. Or perhaps more citizens saw the good in our schools in action this year. Attended a science fair, an orchestra concert, a debate tournament or a basketball game.
Or maybe some people were finally tired of being cynical and angry, and targeting those feelings toward institutions, such as schools.
One theory is as good as another. What we know for sure is that thousands of women, men and children labored long hours. They attended meetings, made phone calls, waved to cars on rainy street corners, believed that voters would listen, care and show.
Their belief was not shattered, nor their hard work wasted. How sweet it is.
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rebecca Nappi/For the editorial board